May 10, 1986
After the New Zealand 1985 tour of South Africa was cancelled as part of the global boycott of Republic’s apartheid government, an unofficial New Zealand side, the Cavaliers, headed to South Africa on tour and they lost their opening test match to the Springboks on this day in rugby history in 1986.
The Cavaliers side was made up of 28 of the 30 players scheduled to travel with the original tour the previous year. The players made matters worse as they were rumored to have received large payments for their participation, something that was controversial as rugby union was still an amateur sport.
Colin Meads was the coach of the renegade side with Ian Kirkpatrick serving as manager and Andy Dalton named the captain although after he was injured Jock Hobbs and Andy Haden took the armband. The side won 7 of their 8 matches against provincial sides although could only manage 1 win out of 4 against the Springboks.
In their first test match, South Africa won 21-15 at the Newlands in Cape Town.
When the Cavaliers returned home they were banned for the next two matches. The side that stood in were known as the ‘baby blacks.’
The tour seriously questioned the financial situations and amateur status of the game. And while professionalism was still 10 years off, it showed the need for players to be compensated. It also motivated the All Blacks side. They felt the refereeing was largely the reason for the outcomes in the test matches and that spurred them on to their win in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.